How about a little of both mat & reformer and more! "Pilates" exercise is actually a movement system that includes the mat, reformer, cadillac/tower and other apparatus. Because the equipment is expensive and takes up space, many health clubs and gyms only offer mat classes. Pilates studios with equipment can offer mat and reformer classes or combine the mat reformer and cadillac with other apparatus including the chairs and barrels. As a system, the different pieces of equipment provide variety and give everyone the ability to progress.
Mat Pilates is the heart & soul of the work...
The Mat exercises were the first part of the system that Joseph Pilates created. The cadillac came next while rehabilitating soldiers after WWI, helping the injured soldiers to move. The soldiers still were not strong enough to do the mat exercises. Joseph Pilates' studio was above the New York Ballet and he worked with many dancers. To rehabilitate and strengthen the soldiers enough to learn the mat work, and to challenge the dancers on a moving surface, the reformer was invented. The "Wunda Chair"...inspired by Chinese Acrobats, came later as the first ever piece of home exercise equipment. It conveniently flipped over and became a very comfortable chair. Urban legend has it that the magic circle/pilates ring came from the steel bands around whiskey barrels.
As a system, a combination of equipment offers variety, and assists & challenges the body in different yet similar ways.
The reformer is certainly the most popular and fun piece of all and offered in class settings all over the world. At Performance Pilates you get to experience the reformer and all other equipment, including the mat in our classes and private sessions.